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Using Tomatoes to study Environmentally-Friendly Farming Techniques

tomatoes on a vine

Mattia Doglio, student at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policies of the University of Milan, introduces Project TomRes.

Climate change is one of the most discussed and debated topics. It will bring about several consequences, with desertification being one of the most severe and concerning, especially for agriculture and crops. This problem is the starting point of the European research project TomRes (A Novel and Integrated Approach to Increase Multiple and Combined Stress Tolerance in Plants Using Tomato as a Model), that chose the tomato as a biological and agronomical model crop to develop a sustainable and resilient product that needs less water and fertilizers during cultivation. This multidisciplinary project involves 25 European institutions including universities and research centres. TomRes is funded by the Horizon2020 program, the largest European innovation program.

Tomato is one of the most consumed vegetable products all over the world, as it can be consumed either fresh or cooked in many ways. Tomato production is constantly growing, and Europe is one of the main producers of tomatoes, with more than 24 million tons being produced in 2017. The cultivation of tomatoes can take place both in the field and in the greenhouse. However, the major problems all tomato farmers face is combined water (demand: 180 L/kg) and nutrient stress. Solutions are thus needed to protect crop yields, while preserving the environment.

The TomRes project, through varietal crossings and agronomic techniques, has set itself the goal of reducing the consumption of fertilizers (nitrogen and phosphorus) by 20% and water by 40%, guaranteeing the economic and environmental sustainability of the proposed solutions in addition to quality nutritional and sensorial product. This work is supported by a study on the environmental impact and a study on the socio-economic impact of the new product.

In order to study consumer attitudes towards this new sustainable product, the research group of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policies of the University of Milan, together with the Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences of the University of Turin, has developed an anonymous questionnaire targeting European tomato consumers with the goal of assessing their interest and acceptance of this hypothetical TomRes tomato. We kindly invite you to complete the survey and share the questionnaire among your friends and family in order to contribute to our research.

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